California Proposition 2, Standards for Confining Farm Animals (2008)
Proposition 2 created a new state statute that prohibits the confinement of farm animals in a manner that does not allow them to turn around freely, lie down, stand up, and fully extend their limbs. The law is set to go into full effect on January 1, 2015.
Voters in other states had previously voted to eliminate calf and pig crates, but Proposition 2 in California in 2008 was the first time voters were asked to eliminate the practice of confining chickens in battery (small, confining) cages.
|California Proposition 2|
Turnout: 79.4% of registered
- Final results from the California Secretary of State
Aftermath of Proposition 2
Apply to all eggs sold
In the aftermath of Proposition 2's victory, California state assemblyman Jared Huffman has introduced a bill in the state legislature that would require that Prop 2's provisions apply to all eggs sold in the state, regardless of where the eggs are laid.
Idaho, Nevada lure egg farmers
As the 2010 session of the Idaho State Legislature opened in January 2010, Tim Corder, a Republican state senator, announced that he is introducing legislation designed "to attract California chicken farmers who might consider relocating" to Idaho. The Idaho legislator and others say that Idaho will give egg farmers who might want to leave California in advance of the time that Proposition 2 goes into full effect in 2015 "friendlier regulations and lower costs."
Officials in Pershing County, Nevada are also visiting with poultry farmers from California and "aggressively" encouraging them to pull up stakes and move to Nevada. Economic development officer Kathy Johnson said, "We wanted to let them know that we do have the land, the climate, and we'll work with them. We don't have these stringent regulations that are being imposed now in California."
Debbie Murdock, executive director of the Association of California Egg Farmers, said that for egg farmers to move to a new state would entail significant expenses. Pointing out that there are currently 20 million hens in California, she said, "It's a huge expense for us to have to move. It's a huge expense for us to change our housing. A move like this, especially in this economic climate, can be very scary."
California's egg farmers are asking for guidelines that carefully define the minimum amount of space they must provide for each hen. Some egg farming associations say that Prop 2 doesn't specifically outlaw all cage systems.
"Turned upside down"
Arnie Riebli, an egg farmer, is the chair of the Association of California Egg Farmers. He was also a member of the Sonoma Valley Health Care District, but on July 1, 2009 he announced that he was resigning from the health care district's board to focus on his business, saying, "My personal business world has been turned upside down."
J.S. West lawsuit
J.S. West & Co., a commercial egg producer, filed a lawsuit in December 2010 in Fresno County. The lawsuit seeks clarification on exactly what type of housing is acceptable under Proposition 2, which is set to take effect on January 1, 2015. According to the lawsuit, Proposition 2 does not define how much space is required to allow for the behaviors it mentions (lying, sitting down, standing up, turning around, fully extending limbs without touching another animal) and it does not ban cages for hens, but Proposition 2's sponsor (the Humane Society of the United States) is saying that Proposition 2 does ban cages for hens.
The egg industry has set 67-87 square inches per hen as its space standard for how much space each hen should have. In 2010, J.S. West opened a colony housing system for hens. This colony housing system was the first such hen housing concept to be built in the United States. It provides 116 square inches per hen. J.S. West asserted that its colony housing system was Proposition 2 compliant. The Humane Society of the United States then said that it wasn't, and that in fact, Proposition 2 is "crystal clear" in its requirement that hens must be housed in "cage-free environments".
Enriched colony systems
J.S. West & Company, an egg-producing company based in Modesto, said in September 2009 that it plans to build a $3.2 million "enriched colony system" for egg-laying hens. The "enriched colony system", according to the company, gives each hen 116 square inches of room. They believe that this new method of chicken farming will satisfy the requirements of Proposition 2.
- In the colonies, 60 laying hens are housed together in four-foot by 12-foot-off-the-ground enclosures. The enclosures have perches, scratching areas, claw shortening mats and privacy areas for laying eggs.
- The chicken enclosures meet the standards of the European Union.
- The Humane Society says that the enclosures do not meet the requirements of Proposition 2.
- The Association of California Egg Farmers says, "We are pleased to see a California farmer step forward to construct new housing that will meet voters' desire to provide egg-laying hens more space."
Association of California Egg Farmers lawsuit
The Association of California Egg Farmers filed a lawsuit against Proposition 2 in November 2012 seeking to have a California state court declare that Proposition 2 is "unconstitutionally vague."
Animal confinement practices
In California in 2008, chicken farmers were allowed to raise chickens in what are called "battery cages." These are stacked wire enclosures where 95% of laying hens live out their lives, with six to eight hens to a cage. According to the United Egg Producers, a trade association, about 30 farms in California produce most of the state's annual 5-billion-egg harvest, an average of more than 600,000 hens per farm.
Calves may be raised in veal crates and sows may be raised in gestation crates.
In 2008, about half the eggs consumed in California were produced outside the state. The provisions of Proposition 2 do not apply to out-of-state egg producers.
Egg production in the state is concentrated in Sonoma County, the Central Valley and Southern California. San Joaquin County produced an estimated 34.5 million dozen eggs in 2007, worth more than $25 million to farmers. Eggs account for a little more than 1 percent of California's $32 billion annual farm production. The state's egg industry employs about 3,000 people.
The top ten egg-producing states in the country, ranked by number of active hens, are:
Only three of the top 10 egg-producing states allow for citizen initiative (California, Florida and Nebraska).
Text of measure
The ballot title was:
The official summary provided to describe Proposition 2 said:
- Requires that calves raised for veal, egg-laying hens and pregnant pigs be confined only in ways that allow these animals to lie down, stand up, fully extend their limbs and turn around freely.
- Exceptions made for transportation, rodeos, fairs, 4-H programs, lawful slaughter, research and veterinary purposes.
- Provides misdemeanor penalties, including a fine not to exceed $1,000 and/or imprisonment in jail for up to 180 days.
Fiscal impact (official)
- See also: Fiscal impact statement
The fiscal estimate provided by the California Legislative Analyst's Office said:
- Potential unknown decrease in state and local tax revenues from farm businesses, possibly in the range of several million dollars annually.
- Potential minor local and state enforcement and prosecution costs, partly offset by increased fine revenue.
Other estimates of fiscal impact
A May 2008 study by Promar International that was commissioned by opponents to Proposition 2 estimated the fiscal impact of the measure on the California agriculture industry and consumers. This study concluded:
- 95% of the California egg industry and accompanying economic output would be lost by 2015.
- The total current economic output of the industry is $648 million and 3,561 jobs.
- Egg production costs would increase by 76%. 
The University of California Agricultural Issues Center (AIC), attached to UC-Davis, issued a July 2008 study about the fiscal impact. That study said:
- The best evidence from a variety of sources suggests that (non-organic) non-cage systems incur costs of production that are at least 20 percent higher than the common cage housing systems. This is due to higher feed costs, higher hen laying mortality, higher direct housing costs, and higher labor costs.
- The study also estimated that the California egg industry would relocate to other states during the 5-year adjustment period.
- The study concluded that the cost to consumers of the cheapest California-produced eggs would increase by at least 25%. However, since the egg industry shall have relocated to other states, in the opinion of the study, they conclude that the cost of eggs to California consumers will increase by about 1 cent per egg.
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), a key supporter of Proposition 2, filed a lawsuit against UC-Davis relative to this study. 
The YES! on Prop 2 campaign was run by Californians for Humane Farms, sponsored by The Humane Society of the United States, Farm Sanctuary, and other animal protection groups, family farmers, veterinarians and public health professionals.
Joe Ramsey was the official sponsor of the initiative. In addition to humane societies and animal welfare groups, the measure was also backed by the California Veterinary Medical Association, the Center for Food Safety, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the Consumer Federation of America, Clean Water Action, the Sierra Club, the United Farm Workers, and the Union of Concerned Scientists. Proposition 2 was also endorsed by several politicians, including the California Democratic Party and U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein.
Jennifer Fearing was the campaign manager for the "Yes on Prop 2" campaign.
See also: List of Proposition 2 supporters.
Arguments in favor
- Prop 2 prevents cruelty to animals, since it is simply wrong to confine animals in tiny cages barely large enough for their bodies. To emphasize this argument, supporters of Prop 2 released a video on October 14 that according to the Los Angeles Times shows "egg-laying hens crammed into filthy cages, while, nearby, discarded birds are left to die in piles of corpses."
- Prop 2 improves our health and food safety by requiring better conditions for animals.
- Prop 2 supports family farmers, who are driven out of business when factory farms cut corners and put profits ahead of animal welfare and our health.
- Prop 2 protects air and water and safeguards the environment.
- Prop 2 is a reasonable and common-sense reform, which will take effect in 2015 and won't be costly to implement.
- The price of cage-free eggs will go down.
- See California Proposition 2 videos
$10,499,162 was contributed to the campaign in favor of a "yes" vote on Proposition 2.
Donors of $100,000 or more were:
|Humane Society of the United States||$4,070,307|
|Audrey Steele Burnand||$500,000|
|Farm Sanctuary Inc.||$314,634|
|Fund for Animals||$250,000|
|Leslie L. Alexander||$100,000|
|Laurie C. McGrath||$100,000|
Californians for SAFE Food opposed Proposition 2. When the signatures to qualify the measure for the ballot were turned in, the group released a statement, saying, "This measure is primarily an effort to ban the use of a scientifically proven method for housing egg-laying hens. If implemented it would trigger unintended consequences which are likely to include increased farm costs, decreased in-state production and higher egg prices for California families."
- If it passes, egg supply will go down and egg prices will go up.
- Some egg farmers in California who already practice cage-free chicken farming are fearful that the ballot language is ambiguous and that their farming would also be subject to the provisions of the initiative.
- If chickens are not in cages, they are more vulnerable to attacks by predators, including other chickens;
- Veal crates and gestation crates for pigs are practically non-existent in California or are being voluntarily phased out this year.
- The initiative doesn't require farmers to keep chickens outdoors. Battery cages have been banned in Europe effective 2012. Farmers making the transition there are not providing free range conditions for their chickens but are instead finding other ways to keep chickens in barns.
- If egg companies don't want to deal with the new regulations, they can move to other states or Mexico, taking their benefits to local economies with them.
- According to a study put out by the University of California-Davis, if Prop 2 passes, it is likely that it would force the state's $300 million egg industry to move out of the state or out of business entirely.
- The cost of producing eggs would increase by 20% or more.
- The egg business would have to invest about $500 million on new ways to house chickens.
- Consumers would buy trucked-in eggs from other states and Mexico which would be more exposed to salmonella, and the hens more vulnerable to bird flu.
- According to the National Taxpayers Union, Proposition 2 would place additional regulations on how livestock owners must handle their farm animals, which could increase food costs.
- Los Angeles pundit George Skelton says, "I'm for chicken compassion. But I feel more compassionate about the chicken farmer in this bankrupting economy."
- See California Proposition 2 videos
Donors of over $100,000 were:
|Rose Acre Farms||$517,256|
|J.S. West Milling||$340,792|
|Midwest Poultry Services||$260,000|
|Foster Poultry Farms||$250,000|
|Pine Hill Egg Ranch||$205,000|
|United Egg Producers||$185,000|
|Fort Recovery Equity||$131,814|
|Demler Egg Ranch||$131,283|
|California Farm Bureau Federation||$119,007|
|Herbrucks Poultry Ranch||$117,500|
|Williamette Egg Farms||$100,362|
- See also Polls, 2008 ballot measures.
|Date of Poll||Pollster||In favor||Opposed||Undecided|
|July 2008||Field||63 percent||24 percent||13 percent|
|September 2008||SurveyUSA||72 percent||10 percent||17 percent|
|October 18-28||Field||60 percent||27 percent||13 percent|
"Yes on 2"
- The San Diego Union-Tribune
- The New York Times
- The San Jose Mercury News
- The Santa Cruz Sentinel
- The Paradise Post
- The Los Angeles Daily News
- The Whittier Daily News
- The San Francisco Bay Guardian
"No on 2"
- The Los Angeles Times
- The San Francisco Chronicle
- The Press Telegram 
- Colusa County Sun-Herald 
- North County Times 
- Hollister Free Lance 
- Long Beach Press-Telegram 
- Redding Record Searchlight 
- The Madera Tribune 
- Napa Valley Register 
- Santa Rosa Press Democrat 
- The Record 
- Chico Enterprise Record 
- The Press-Enterprise 
- The Signal Santa Clarita Valley 
- Daily Breeze 
- The Reporter 
Path to the ballot
- See also: California signature requirements
On February 28, 2008, supporters of the measure submitted 790,486 signatures to qualify the measure for the ballot. This compared to a requirement of 433,971 valid signatures. In early April 2008, the California Secretary of State announced that the signatures were sufficient and the measure would proceed to the November ballot.,,,
Initiative supporters say that their petition drive was invigorated in February when a video of sick cows being abused at a packing plant in Chino, California surfaced and was widely viewed on the internet.
- Official Voter's Guide to Proposition 2
- PDF of the mailed November 4, 2008 voter guide for Proposition 2
- November 4, 2008 ballot proposition election returns
- Proposition 2 in the Smart Voter Guide
- UC Davis Study Citing Economic Effects
- Analysis of Proposition 2 from the Institute of Governmental Studies
- Guide to Proposition 2 from the California Voter Foundation
- Summary of donors to and against Proposition 2 from Cal-Access
- Donors for and against Proposition 2 from Follow The Money
- Yes on 2 -- Californians for Humane Farms
- Campaign expenditures of Californians for Humane Farms
- Large donors to Californians for Humane Farms
- A vote for 20 million animals
- Undercover video said to be from a California egg farm from Chicago group Mercy for Animals
- Californians for SAFE Food
- Study Commissioned by Egg Industry Citing Negative Economic Impact
- The Truth About Proposition 2: Putting Our Food Safety & Public Health At Risk
- Large donors to Californians for SAFE Food
- Expenditures of Californians for SAFE Food
- The Libertarian Party of California
- Proposition 2 mandates cage-free chickens
- Opposition groups say Proposition 2 is something to cluck about
- The battle over Proposition 2
- Proposition 2 causes a flap over costs, benefits, Los Angeles Times
- Prop 2: For animals and our humanity
- The Barnyard Strategist
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Press Democrat, "Egg farmers seek guidelines for hen confinement", June 22, 2009
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Wall Street Journal, "Poachers Arrive at Egg Farms", January 13, 2010
- ↑ Los Angeles Times, "Idaho, others prepare for California egg exodus", February 8, 2010
- ↑ Sonoma News, "Riebli steps down from SVH board", July 2, 2009
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Feedstuffs, "Egg producer sues California for interpretation of Prop 2", December 9, 2010
- ↑ Sacramento Bee, "Humane Society moves to have Proposition 2 suit dismissed", December 11, 2012
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 7.2 Los Angeles Times, "Chicken Run", July 5, 2008
- ↑ Economic Impact on California of the Treatment of Farm Animals Act, Promar International, May 16, 2008
- ↑ Sumner, Daniel A. et al, Economic Effects of Proposed Restrictions on Egg-laying Hen Housing in California, University of California Agricultural Issues Center, July 2008
- ↑ The Guardian, "UC served legal threat after Proposition 2 study", September 26, 2008
- ↑ List of sponsors of the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Initiative
- ↑ California Democratic Party, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein and Senator Barbara Boxer Endorse State Anti-Cruelty Ballot Measure, June 19, 2008
- ↑ Jennifer Fearing personnel profile
- ↑ Los Angeles Times, "Footage of mistreated hens released in support of Proposition 2", October 14, 2008
- ↑ San Francisco Chronicle, "Proposition 2: Caging of farm animals under debate", September 30, 2008
- ↑ 16.0 16.1 Follow the Money, "Donors to Yes on Proposition 2"
- ↑ Group forms to fight California ballot initiative, Daily Herd, Jan. 8, 2008
- ↑ United Egg Producers, "Measure threatens science-based farm practices" February 25, 2008
- ↑ [* Inside Bay Area, "Some cage-free egg producers fear effects of Proposition 2", September 25, 2008
- ↑ California Farmer, Group Formed to Fight Ballot Measure, May 1, 2008
- ↑ Record Net, "Measure could send egg industry packing, study says", July 23, 2008
- ↑ Press Telegram, "Uncertain animal benefits", September 29, 2008
- ↑ National Taxpayers Union, "General Election Ballot Guide 2008, The Taxpayer's Perspective"
- ↑ Los Angeles Times, "Proposition 2: Good for chickens, bad for chicken farmers", October 20, 2008
- ↑ Sacramento Bee, "Ballot Watch: Proposition 2: Standards for confining farm animals", September 27, 2008
- ↑ July 22 Field Poll results on Proposition 2
- ↑ Field Poll for the Sacramento Bee, October 31, 2008
- ↑ San Diego Union Tribune, "Ban on inhumane confinement is sensible", September 15, 2008
- ↑ New York Times, "Standing, Stretching, Turning Around", October 8, 2008
- ↑ Mercury News, "Editorial: Vote yes on Proposition 2 to let chickens spread their wings", October 2, 2008
- ↑ Santa Cruz Sentinel, "Proposition 2 makes humane sense"
- ↑ Paradise Post, "We support Prop 2 but not Prop 3"
- ↑ Los Angeles Daily News, "Yes on Prop 2; It's a feel-good egg"
- ↑ Whittier Daily News, "Vote 'yes' on Prop 2"
- ↑ San Francisco Bay Guardian, "Yes on 2"
- ↑ Los Angeles Times, "No on Proposition 2", September 25, 2008
- ↑ San Francisco Chronicle, "Why Proposition 2 is a bad idea", September 24, 2008
- ↑ Press Telegram, "Uncertain animal benefits", September 29, 2008
- ↑ Colusa County Sun-Herald
- ↑ North County Times
- ↑ Hollister Free Lance, "Why Proposition 2 is a bad idea for agriculture"
- ↑ Long Beach Press-Telegram, "Proposition 2: Uncertain animal benefits"
- ↑ Redding Record-Searchlight, "Farmers would bear brunt of Proposition 2"
- ↑ Madera Tribune, "Prop 2 deserves a 'no' vote"
- ↑ Napa Valley Register, "Vote No on Proposition 2", October 9, 2008
- ↑ Santa Rosa Press Democrat, "No on Prop 2"
- ↑ Record.Net, "Some losing propositions", October 15, 2008
- ↑ Chico Enterprise Record, "Flawed measures should be rejected"
- ↑ Press Enterprise, "No on 2", October 16, 2008
- ↑ Santa Clarita Valley Signal, "Our positions on Nov. 4's propositions", October 18, 2008
- ↑ Daily Breeze, "Daily Breeze election endorsements"
- ↑ The Reporter, "Proposition 2 not for voters; Let Legislature make law"
- ↑ Secretary of State's ballot qualification notice
- ↑ Nearly 800,000 signatures turned in to qualify anti-cruelty measure for November ballot
- ↑ Anti-Cruelty Measure Certified for California’s November Ballot, April 10, 2008
- ↑ Los Angeles Times, "Animals in the voting booth", April 8, 2008
- ↑ Press-Enterprise, "Proposition 2 petition drive lagged until cow abuse video surfaced", August 17, 2008
- ↑ Campaign expenditure details